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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Google to turn your mobile into a 'tap and pay' virtual wallet

Google’s newest iteration of its Android phone OS will include a wallet that lets you use your phone to make payments by tapping it against a cash register, CEO Eric Schmidt revealed Monday.

“This could eventually replace credit cards,” Schmidt said.

Android 2.3, codenamed Gingerbread, will be released in a “few weeks,” Schmidt said on stage at the Web 2.0 Summit conference in San Francisco. Schmidt showed off how so-called Near Field Communication would work using an unnamed smartphone he called an unannounced product. Using the software from Android and a NFC chip in the phone, Schmidt was able to “check in” to the conference, launching Google Maps, by touching the phone to a conference sign that had a built-in antenna.

(For geeks, there was little doubt Schmidt was showing off the Nexus S, a device thought to be made by Samsung as the successor to the original Nexus One. Unlike most other Android phones sold, the Nexus S will run the stock Android OS with no carrier modifications, making it the perfect phone for app developers and tinkerers.)

Near Field Communication sounds fancy, but it’s the same technology build into debit cards that can be used to make a payment by bumping against a reader at a store or gas pump. Android 2.3 devices that have the right on-board chip will be able to make payments using stored credit card numbers or other payment systems such as PayPal.

While U.S. geeks have long hungered for their phones to take the place of plastic credit cards, the NFC technology is not likely to replace credit card companies. In fact, Schmidt said those companies are excited about Near Field Communication because they think it will reduce fraud.

Despite running its own payment solution called Google Checkout, Google will be aggregating many payment systems, not trying to replace them, according to Schmidt.

“Ultimately, it is a personal, secure and aggregating technology,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt says he’s bullish on mobile and says it will be a core focus for Google.

“I don’t think people figured out how much more powerful the mobile devices would become than desktops,” he said, referring not to their processors, but to their ability to keep a user connected to the net everywhere and use location to customize the net.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Nexus Two To Be First Native Android 2.3 Device

The Nexus One was the very first phone to get the upgrade to Android 2.2, so it makes sense that the Nexus Two will also be a flagship phone for a new Android operating system. If new reports are to be believed, it'll be the first to have Android 2.3, AKA Gingerbread, pre-installed.

The device, which was designed and manufactured by Samsung instead of HTC in collaboration with Google (like the Nexus One), will be officially unveiled November 8 at a pumped-up media event in Times Square. I4U will be on hand at the event to provide all the full details once they become official.

But for now, we're getting word that Android fans should be happy to hear. By incorporating Android 2.3, that would mean the new OS is complete and ready for deployment. Updates to existing Android phones should hopefully not be too far behind.

Other early details about the Nexus Two suggest it will have a 4-inch AMOLED or Super AMOLED display, a 1.2 GHz processor, 5 MP external camera and 1.3 MP front-facing camera, as well as 16 GB of internal storage and 512 MB of RAM.

It'll pack a powerful punch to the Android market, as those specs are more powerful than we've seen on any existing Android phone to date.

Again, the Nexus Two will be officially christened at an exclusive, balls-out New York City spectacle, and we'll be there to get all the juicy details. Stay tuned.
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